Tuesday, December 04, 2018


Infinitivus Pro Imperativo

Jacob Wackernagel (1853-1938), Lectures on Syntax, tr. David Langslow (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009), p. 334 (footnote omitted):
The use of the infinitive to give a command is best known in Homer but is in Greek by no means confined to Homer. Apart from the poets who use the epic style, the tragedians offer examples, and the usage is found even in early scientific and historical prose. Hippocrates, e.g., closes his famous work Airs, Waters, Places with the words, τὰ λοιπὰ ἐνθυμεῖσθαι, καὶ οὐχ ἁμαρτήσῃ 'reflect on the remaining matters and you will not go wrong'. Thucydides has this infinitive for sure in one passage, in a warlike speech of Brasidas, 5.9.7 σὺ δέ, Κλεαρίδα, ὕστερον..., ἐπεκθεῖν καὶ ἐπείγεσθαι... 'but you, Clearidas, afterwards...charge out against them and make haste to...'. Even more strikingly, it is found in inscriptions, those moreover with no pretensions to poetic ornament. On the famous sixth-century stele of Sigeum (COLLITZ & BECHTEL no. 5531), a unique dialect-bilingual, the Attic text ends with the words, μελεδαίνειν με, ὦ Σιγειῆς 'care for me, you Sigeans'.
K. Meisterhans, Grammatik der attischen Inschriften, 3rd ed., rev. Eduard Schwyzer (Berlin: Weidmann, 1900), p. 248, § 90.A, gives the same example from Sigeum. See also Eduard Schwyzer, Griechische Grammatik, Bd. 2: Syntax und syntaktische Stilistik (Munich: C.H. Beck, 1950), pp. 380-383 (inscriptions discussed on p. 383).

I don't have access to more modern discussions such as:
A concise example of a negative imperatival infinitive (i.e. a prohibition) can be found in Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum 43.568 (Andros, late 4th century B.C.; not in the Packard Humanities Institute's Searchable Greek Inscriptions):
Rock-cut inscription in the village of Palaiopolis; the place was possibly dedicated to the cult of a goddess. Ed.pr. L. Palaiokrassa, Andriaka Chronika 21 (1993) 125/126 (ph.); non vidimus. Cf. M. Sève in B[ulletin] E[pigraphique] (1995) no. 451: Μὴ χέζειν | γυναῖκα
(It is) forbidden for a woman to defecate (here).
There is a nice photograph (taken by L. Palaiokrassa) of the rock in Michalis Tiverios, "The Cult of Demeter on Andros and the Homeric Hymn to Demeter," Trends in Classics 9.1 (2017) 71–84 (fig. 2 on p. 74):

Hat tip: Eric Thomson, whose email about the inscription had as its subject line "Woman of Andrex," punning on "Woman of Andros" (Terence's play — Andros is also where the inscription was found) and "Andrex" (a brand of toilet tissue in the UK).

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